Oct 2, 2020 | By Psalm Delaney | Illustration by Jubilee Rivera-Hernandez
This November, voters will have the opportunity to vote on seven initiatives. Colorado Proposition 113 is one of the most highlighted propositions on the ballot, as it is a veto referendum, which is otherwise known as a citizen’s veto. A veto referendum is a circumstance in which citizens can vote to keep or repeal a law that was already passed by the legislature.
Proposition 113 is the first certified veto referendum on the Colorado ballot since 1932. The public’s vote on this proposition will determine whether or not Colorado will officially join the National Popular Vote Interstate Pact (NPVIC).
The NPVIC is an interstate compact that plans to award the state’s electoral college votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote. Traditionally, most states award their electoral votes to the candidate who won the state’s popular vote. However, this legislation was created to prevent instances where the elected president wins the electoral college vote but loses the popular vote. This occurred in 5 out of 58 elections in United States history, including the Trump versus Clinton election in 2016. The NPVIC is intended to promote a more accurate representation of the nation’s majority vote.
Janine Reid, Chair of the Women’s League of Voters (one of Proposition 113’s endorsers), clarified, “The National Popular Vote preserves the Electoral College while still making sure every vote for president matters and the presidential candidate that receives the most popular votes nationwide wins the election.”
In May of 2020, 14 states and Washington D.C. adopted the NPVIC legislation. Colorado has passed the legislation; however, it has been suspended and is awaiting the votes of the Colorado public in November. In order for it to be implemented nationally and used in an election, the NPVIC is required to be adopted by states that represent a total of 270 electoral votes. So far, the 14 states and Washington D.C. make up 187 votes total. If it is passed, Colorado will contribute its 9 electoral votes to the current total.
A majority of “yes” votes on Proposition 113 will allow Colorado to adopt the NPVIC and cast its 9 electoral college votes in support of the candidate who wins the national popular vote. Supporters of the proposition state that it will make it necessary for candidates to take a more holistic approach in their campaigns. Rather than focusing on winning in “battleground states,” candidates will more evenly distribute their presence and resources among all of the states. Supporters say that the NPVIC will allow the votes of each state to have equal representation.
Jennifer Parenti of the Colorado Common Cause explained in her op-ed in the Greeley Tribune, “I’ve run the numbers. Whether you’re a rural Republican, big-city Democrat or small-town independent, like me, the National Popular Vote will make your vote more relevant and more powerful in national elections.”
A majority of “no” votes on the proposition will bar Colorado from adopting the NPVIC. The state’s electoral college votes will continue to represent the state’s popular vote. Opponents of Colorado Proposition 113 say that the traditional electoral college system was created to promote checks and balances within the government. They say that altering the system will diminish the original intentions of the founding fathers and promote “the tyranny of the majority” instead.
Mark Hillman, an opponent of the proposition, says that “Colorado’s vote would become insignificant compared to larger and more densely populated states.” He said “it is not just the large states like California, Texas, and Florida that would smother Colorado’s voice. Because Colorado is often more evenly-divided than the other states, the margin of victory here is often so small that our choice would be negated by smaller states.”
Colorado Proposition 113 is not only a rare occasion of a veto referendum, but it also has the potential to change the United States electoral system.